Nearly two dozen high-ranking figures of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group have been killed when Iraqi Air Force fighter jets carried out an airstrike near Mosul as government forces and their allied fighters are trying to boot the extremists out of the strategic northern city.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry, citing information provided by the Directorate of General Military Intelligence, announced in a statement on Thursday that the military aircraft targeted Daesh terrorists during a meeting west of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad.
The ministry added that 20 commanders and 50 members of the terrorist group were killed in the aerial attack.
The slain militants were apparently planning attacks on the strategically important city of Tal Afar, situated 63 kilometers west of Mosul.
The statement came on the same day that Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Military Command (JOC), said security personnel have liberated half of the districts in the northern province of Nineveh from Daesh’s grip.
Rasool stated that government troopers have wrested control over 46 neighborhoods out of a total 56 on the eastern flank of Mosul, noting that counter-terrorism forces are controlling 40 neighborhoods while army soldiers hold sway in six others.
The senior Iraqi military official added that the Iraqi forces and their allies have laid complete siege to Mosul, noting that operations inside the city are going ahead cautiously in order to protect civilians and infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat, commander of the Iraqi Federal Police Forces, said security forces arrested a member of Daesh media center, identified as Saleh Najem Abdullah, during an operation in al-Shura area south of Mosul.
Saraya al-Jihad (Jihad Brigades), a division of the pro-government Popular Mobilization Units, also announced that its fighters killed nine Daesh militants and destroyed four vehicles rigged with explosives, when the terrorists sought to launch an assault west of Mosul.
Separately, Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters fired a Kornet missile at an explosives-laden Daesh bulldozer in the village of Sharia, which lies west of Tal Afar, destroying the crawler as it was moving towards pro-government forces.
On October 17, Iraqi army soldiers, supported by Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, launched a joint operation to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists.
The Iraqi forces’ advance has, however, been slowed down due to the presence of hundreds of thousands of civilians, many of whom are prevented from leaving Mosul by Daesh.